Playing Ball


huruma3_icon.gif ziadie_icon.gif

Scene Title Playing Ball
Synopsis Huruma speaks truth, this time, even if it is some truths that Ziadie is not necessarily keen to hear.
Date May 9, 2011

Financial District

In spite of itself, New York's financial district has weathered these tough times like it has other crisis' in the past. The neighborhood and it's people certainly aren't a strangers to them. The Financial District has its own scar, and it's own Ground Zero, though from an admittedly earlier tragedy. While the memorial to the September 11th attacks stands out amidst the skyline of this hub of New York's commerce, it is a wound that the city learned to survive, just like the events of November 8th.

Despite it's proximity to the fallout area and the Red Zone, the Financial District has bounced back onto its feet well. Public and private corporations funneled billions of dollars into the economy of the neighborhood to ensure that Wall Street didn't collapse along with the remainder of New York's heart. This multi-billion dollar effort was not without obvious results, and this neighborhood of New York is almost exactly as it was before the Bomb. While the western edges of the borough at Battery Park City were temporarily evacuated during the initial fallout scare, this region hasn't seen the dive in property values or spike in crime as strongly as other similarly hit areas such as Staten Island and Queens has.

Buildings in the area look well-tended, the city streets are kept clean, and the NYPD has a strong presence here. Overall not much has changed in the local attitude since the Bomb happened, save for the jagged northern skyline, and how the neighborhood slowly begins to degenerate in condition the further away from City Hall and Wall Street you go.

Midday is prime time for activity in New York, especially when there is an everpresent curfew; lunchtime has just ended for much of the consulates inside of the Financial District, and several dozen men and women from the various missions there are returning to the safety of flags over doors and effectively foreign buildings. They had to move the nations somewhere- to the nearest, still rich district was a given. It may also have had something to do with the various state organizations and federal plazas that also make a home near here.

Among the other cocoa browns of some of the foreign employees is one, singularly familiar one that is currently exiting the vicinity containing several countries' offices. One of them being the Republic of Madagascar, its flag draped from a pole at the corner of the second floor, the red, white and green stark against the ruddy spring backdrops of a hazy afternoon. Of the almond-shaped eyes and various skin tones of the returning employees, Huruma's mainland appearance is stark. Her pants and blazer are much less so, of course. Her eyes are muddy brown, from her contacts, and though she carries herself with some sort of regal bearing out of the side doors, she has no decoration on her ears or neck. A utilitarian day, at best, and one where she seems especially guarded about who is around her- a ticking glance here and there, a watchful gaze to where she looks, and an empathic dish to absorb the sphere around her.

The same region of buildings, not that far away, holds the offices of the Jamaican consulate, small though they happen to be in New York. And it is there that Nocturne Ziadie had been much of the morning, before wandering to lunch, which he has eaten some of, fed some of to the pigeons that gather around the old man. Neither jacket nor medals are present, being switched with a simple wool sweater because the spring weather is nice enough to warrant leaving the jacket at home.

He's calm, quiet, if perhaps slightly less than fully alert, with the undertone of worry and restlessness that is nearly usual these days. Less in a bad way than he had been either of the times he'd encountered her before, but still perhaps not good. Gaze rests upon Huruma, recognition taking a longer moment than it would otherwise, before he simply nods greeting as she passes, the pigeons having scattered before she came close. "Good day." A wave of his hand to call her over. It's not overly many people that he recognises, in this area.

Maybe she saw him at first, or maybe she actually isn't paying total attention; whatever the case, the dark woman's features bend into something vaguely irked when she hears him and feels him there in tandem- it is hard to ignore the fact you know someone that calls you out as you are trying to pass through. She flicks her fingernails together at her side when she stops to look, gauging whether or not she should entertain him out in the open like this.

Huruma decides it is at least not going to do anything bad, if she stops; when she reaches his part of the wide sidewalk, she gives him the faintest of smiles and pauses there for his own sake. Certainly a fake expression, but nonetheless it is there.

"Good afternoon. You are looking- better." Her smooth voice gets back to him easily enough now that she is close. He doesn't look good, no, but indeed better. It is the little parts that matter.

Ziadie recognises few enough people, overall. His social circle is small, but smaller yet with the demise of Redbird, and the fact that his few friends have all but disappeared. There's a smile offered, and the words that follow flow easily. "Well enough. Retirement is boring, but." The former police officer shrugs. It's not even a lie, doesn't push his ability to twinge at his own words, and there's a faint smile offered. "Yourself?"

Huruma falls into the space on his right, standing there to watch the birds still prying crumbs from between cracks in the pavement. Her hand goes to one pocket to draw out a flat phone, and she thumbs something into the screen. Up close, he can see the tiny Malagasy flag pin on the lapel of her blazer, pinning down a small throwaway badge from the consulate's visitor log. "Retirement is boring? I have some friends who say th'same thing. He found something else t'do- gardening- but then he got tired of it as well. In th'end he went back t'what he was doing b'fore retiring."

"As for me, well… I have never had a career to …retire from, technically."

There's a longer glance given to the flag pin than to the rest of her attire, and then a soft chuckle. When he replies, it is in a pidgin mix of patois and English, with the somehow certain assurance that Huruma will understand it. "It is, really. Lacks … excitement, maybe. Lack of anything to do. Though perhaps I am getting too old for excitement. The last actual excitement I had, it ended the wrong way, nearly." Ziadie shrugs, the mention of his encounter with the robot in Midtown remaining casual, and then he switches back into English.

"I'm not cut out for retirement. But th' job didn't work out either," if that is, indeed, what he calls the fact that his place of potential employment being blown up. And even if it is with a slight wince, imperceptible if one isn't paying attention to it or to the twinge of pain from his ability's protest at the white lie, it is what Ziadie is calling it. "So what's a body to do." The last is not a question. Or at least, not entirely one, because it's clear that Ziadie doesn't expect Huruma to have an answer for him.

If she doesn't absorb some of it- and certainly, she may not- she doesn't let him catch on. Her own assurance seems to feed off the fact that he knows nothing real about her- aside from that she has a special visitor's pass to the Madagascar people. The phone in her hand isn't in English text- Kiswahili makes eavesdropping difficult.

"Do what feels right." Huruma responds, eyes on her phone until they flicker up to him. "That is what I did. I could never see myself doing otherwise. What feels right, and what is right. There is a fine line, though many times they become mutual…" Her thumb sends something off with a tinny ping of noise, and she pockets the phone to her slacks.

"What is right gets harder, these days," Ziadie responds. "Though yes. It's the only thing I ever tried to do in the first place." Before he retired. There's the implication that he's been having a harder time finding where to do that, now, but if there is a complaint, it is unsaid.

Instead, there's another shrug, and the old man throws a shred of bread to some of the birds. Perhaps there is a tinge of surprise to the words, that she had an answer, and a further tinge of surprise as to what it was. Not the easiest words for the old man to hear, and the worry and guilt and perhaps loss ebb stronger. Other people doing the right thing has lost him the few people he cared about, even if he wouldn't have it any other way.

"What is right, these days, is not always what is legal." Huruma actually smiles this time, though the expression is somewhat serpentine, like a python full of recent dinner. Contented, perhaps- sly, yes. "It is possible you need to reevaluate your stance." Her teeth are just barely visible, a sliver of pleased white inside tinted lips. She watches the birds come flocking around for the next piece of bread.

"Be more like a pigeon. They know how to adapt." Never were wiser words, huh?

There's is a furrowing of his brows as Ziadie considers her statement. It's not one he absolutely likes — as a young man, he was a believer in the law, though not enough of one to go after a career in politics or such that he could affect the law. "It's possible," he admits. "More than possible. Probable, nearly certain. The times have changed, and I am a stubborn old man who needs to not be too stubborn to admit it. Even I know this." The slight joke at his own expense brings a smile to the weathered face, teeth showing brightly for a moment. "But then it simply becomes a matter of finding such that there is what for me to do."

"You are skirting the ballpark." The right one, anyway. She has run into him too many times that she's going to ignore that she has. "I am sure that someone as streetwise as you can manage yourself where it matters." Huruma is doing that thing again- where she is vague enough, but also being true enough, unbeknownst to what his ability is. She is just like that. Her words are a puzzle in themselves, if she wasn't one already.

"I can only tell you that there are always going to be people that need helping. You need to do your part as a fellow human, hm?" Huruma laughs dryly. Look at her, talking about doing one's part. Things have changed so much.

At least she isn't doing the thing where she told an outright lie and the truth at the same time. That one gave Ziadie a headache, more than just a puzzle. Though he already considers the woman a puzzle, one that he would definitely like to know more of, to unravel at least slightly. "And when the chance comes, I do," Ziadie says, words quiet but such that they carry. "If that I had more chance. Like I said, retirement is boring."

The next words are more bitter, though there's long ceased to be any anger behind them. Anger is for younger men, more volatile, not for him. "Not that I think I will. Most people find, eventually, they dislike having me around, after a bit. Or when I'm not absolutely needed. Sometimes I think I ought to stop skirting the ballpark and just play ball. But like I said." Lie detectors aren't the most sought-after of company, and Ziadie knows it.

"So play ball." Huruma has been quite clear-voiced while speaking with him, and it doesn't change. "I was the opposite- nobody wanted me when I came around-" She laughs, breathily. "-but they kept me after a time. You simply need to force yourself into someone's life, hm? It is not terribly difficult. Not anymore. Find a cause, jump headfirst. Retirement is only as boring as you make it…"

The old man's eyebrows raise, briefly, as Ziadie considers the words she's said. All truth, in that odd way that almost unnerves him. "I jus' might. But see, well, th' kid's gone off to follow his conscience. And so I suppose it requires knowin' someone already playing ball, first, at least somewhat, and I don' know many people anymore." And then there's a careful, considering and almost studying glance, if it were a bit longer, as Ziadie's hands wrap around the handle of his cane.

"I can play ball." With you. Huruma tilts her chin up, looking back down to a pigeon pecking precariously near her feet, letting out communicative coos for the other ones. "That is, I can tell someone you may be willing to get in a game. It is not my game to invite others into." Now is where things get sticky- he doesn't actually know who she is, or what she does. If Ziadie doesn't care to argue about her being free with any of his information, she may as well keep going.

"But it is there. I find there are more than a few retired men."

Ziadie considers, quietly, and then there's a pause as he goes for pockets on the leather jacket that he's not currently wearing, which pushes the clear outline of the gun on his belt visible for a moment, before he remembers that what he's looking for is in his pants pockets, and pulls out his wallet, and a pen. There's apparently no argument, perhaps by virtue of the fact that she still hasn't lied. "I'm easy enough to find, most of the time. Or at least, overall." There's a pause, and he considers. "Though I admit that since th' kid went off, I don't know how t' use the phone in th' apartment."

"If you give me a landline number, or a postal box, I can pass it on." Huruma keeps it as simple as she can, taking his age into account; he still seems very sharp, but age is age, and the internet is probably way over his head as it is. No use trying to explain cellphone networks or something at a time like this. "Or somewhere that you go often, possibly. I am not giving you a guarantee of something, but I can at least guarantee someone more …worthwhile- shall receive it."

The fact he has a firearm comes as no surprise, honestly- she remembers meeting him well enough. Perhaps it is why she is seeing fit to press the coincidence of meeting him more than once into actual exchange.

From one of the outer pockets of the wallet comes a worn card, yellowed with age and the corners rounded and fraying. Carefully, meticulously, Ziadie crosses out the information on the front, which is from before his retirement, listing him with the Crown Heights precinct, and turns the card over. There's no use in new cards when the old ones work just as well. With the same amount of attention and neat if larger than it used to be lettering, a phone number is printed on the back.

"Landline. Most of th' places I go often aren't th' best as far as meetings, go. But y' can find me in th' same area of El Barrio as y' did before." The card is offered up to her, thoughtful, free hand wrapping around the cane once again after pushing the wallet back into his pocket.

The card disappears into her fingers and palm, coiled up into her grasp to be looked over. Huruma purses her lips for a passing moment while reading it- and of course, the part where he scratched it out. A policeman. That is also not surprising, somehow. She knew it was something like that. "As good as any place."

The tall woman tucks the card on the inside of her jacket, taking care to put it where she will not lose it. And the first place she always looks for lost notes, should she misplace the blazer. "I will see if someone is in need of your particular services, in one way or another."

Ziadie nods. The card gives his rank that he'd achieved at retirement, nothing particularly special, but sergeant nonetheless, but that's all water under the bridge as the former police officer sees it, and it was the card he had, in any case. "Thanks." It's a rare word out of his mouth, and Ziadie moves to stand up, slowly, but slow out of care than out of true need, and there's the possibility that in need, he could move quite a bit faster, in any case. "Be seeing you." There's another pause. "And, well, thank you. You speak truth, in a fashion that's rare to see these days. An' it's nice not t' get a headache from a conversation." He grins a bit, teeth flashing in a hint of a smile again, and then walks off, one hand on his cane, the other hand tucked into his pocket.

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